How to go about becoming a translator of novels or short stories (Japanese => English)
Thread poster: locksleyu

United States
Japanese to English
Jan 2, 2016

I'm considering becoming a translator from Japanese to English, in particular of short stories and novels (prefer fiction, but would be interested in non-fiction as well). To that end, I have started translating portions of Japanese books, or stories out of short-story compilations. For example, I translated the first few pages of the recent hit "Hibana".

My next step is to get some of these translations looked at in order to perfect my grammar, and eventually have someone look over it who knows the source material and can give higher-level feedback. I first attempted to do this on a popular critique-sharing site, but got some backlash since I don't technically hold the copyright to the stories, even though I am just doing this for education and for profit. I was a little surprised I got this response because I thought things like fan translations are pretty popular on the net, though I guess there is a grey area there.

So my first question is where can I find a community of people who can help me perfect and revise my translations of these works. My goal is to eventually have samples I can show to others when applying for jobs.

I am not sure if I should be trying to ask permission of the publisher, but in that case I'm not sure how I would phrase it, since I am not actually trying to publish their works in any official form. Even if I did ask, I feel like they would say no. Has anyone ever heard of publishers allowing part of a work to be used for practice translation purposes?

Also, and this is a more broad question, I was wondering specifically how people get into the fiction translation field. I guess contests might be one way, but I am sure there are other options out there I haven't thought of it. If anyone has any suggestions, please let me know. Another option is to translate works of small-time, unpublished authors (with their permission), but I am not sure how well that would be valued by those looking for translators.

As a side note, I have been active on Gengo lately, but I don't feel that will help my fiction translation for the most part (though on occasion there is some fiction-related stuff there).

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How to go about becoming a translator of novels or short stories (Japanese => English)

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